Giant-Killing Japan Looking To Strike Out Croatia

Japan’s teammates celebrate after winning the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E football match between Japan and Spain at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on December 1, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Japan’s World Cup exploits have made headlines in baseball-crazy Japan and coach Hajime Moriyasu is looking to strike out Croatia when they meet in the last 16.

The Blue Samurai booked their place in the knock-out round with a stunning win over Spain on Thursday, topping Group E after also upsetting Germany in their opening game.

Moriyasu has been praised for his game-changing substitutions as Japan came from behind to beat both European heavyweights with second-half fightbacks.

Croatia will offer a difficult test in Monday’s last 16 match-up but Moriyasu is hoping his players can hit another home run.

“The players don’t think of themselves as starting players or substitutes and neither do I,” he said on Friday.

“Of course there is competition for places and we have to have some kind of hierarchy, but in general they’re all regular players.

“I don’t know if it’s quite the same but it’s like in baseball — among pitchers you have starters, relievers and closers.”

READ ALSOAlves Sets Record As Brazil Make Nine Changes For Cameroon Clash

Japan’s forward #09 Kaoru Mitoma, Japan’s midfielder #06 Wataru Endo and Japan’s midfielder #15 Daichi Kamada celebrate after defeating Germany 2-1 in the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E football match between Germany and Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on November 23, 2022. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

 

Moriyasu brought on Ritsu Doan and Kaoru Mitoma at half-time against Spain as Japan looked to hit back on the counter-attack after conceding a first-half goal.

The changes had an immediate effect, with Doan scoring an equaliser and Mitoma setting up the winner for Ao Tanaka minutes later.

Moriyasu said he does not expect much to change against Croatia but hopes his team can enjoy more than the 15 percent possession they had against Spain.

“The concept that we have as a team is to defend well and from there attack — that’s how we got here and that hasn’t changed during these three games at the World Cup,” he said.

“Our opponents will be strong and we’ll have to see how much of the ball we get. We would like to have more of it but it depends on our opponents.”

AFP

Japanese Cannibal Who Walked Free Dies Age 73

This file photo taken on February 5, 1992 shows former Japanese student Issei Sagawa, known as the “Kobe Cannibal” for killing and then devouring a Dutch student in 1981, smiling and gesturing as he meets with an AFP journalist at his apartment in Yokohama. (Photo by JUNJI KUROKAWA / AFP) / NO USE AFTER JANUARY 1, 2023 02:30:57 GMT

 

 

Issei Sagawa, a Japanese murderer known as the “Kobe Cannibal” who killed and ate a Dutch student but was never jailed, has died aged 73.

Sagawa died of pneumonia on November 24 and was given a funeral attended only by relatives, with no public ceremony planned, his younger brother and a friend said in a statement.

In 1981, Sagawa was studying in Paris when he invited Dutch student Renee Hartevelt to his home.

He shot her in the neck, raped her, and then consumed parts of her body over the course of several days.

Sagawa then attempted to dispose of her remains in the Bois de Boulogne park and was arrested several days later, confessing his crime to police.

But in 1983 he was deemed unfit for trial by French medical experts and was initially held in a psychiatric institution before being deported to Japan in 1984.

Hartevelt’s family pledged at the time to push for Sagawa to be prosecuted in Japan so that “the murderer would never go free”.

But on his arrival, he was ruled sane by Japanese authorities, who decided Sagawa’s only problem was a “character anomaly” and that he did not require hospitalisation.

Japanese authorities were unable to get his case files from their French counterparts, who considered the case closed, leaving the murderer to walk free.

Sagawa made no secret of his crime and capitalised on his notoriety, including with a novel-like memoir titled “In the Fog” in which he reminisced about the murder in vivid detail.

The murder was also the subject of Japanese novelist Juro Kara’s “Letter from Sagawa-kun”, which won the country’s most prestigious literary prize in 1982.

Despite the heinous details of the murder, and his lack of remorse, Sagawa gained a level of celebrity and regularly gave interviews to domestic and international media in the years after his return.

He was featured in a magazine for his paintings of naked women, appeared in a pornographic movie and produced a manga comic book that depicted his crime in graphic and unrelenting detail.

The sordid fascination with the murder even saw it referenced by the Rolling Stones and The Stranglers in songs.

Sagawa lived out his final years with his brother, reportedly in a wheelchair after a series of health problems including a stroke.

But he displayed no apparent sign of remorse or reform, telling Vice in a 2013 interview as he looked at posters of Japanese women: “I think they would taste delicious”.

He also recounted details of the incident and his ongoing obsession with cannibalism in interviews and a 2017 documentary, “Caniba”.

The film’s directors spent months with Sagawa and his brother, and described themselves as “conflicted” about the experience.

“We were disgusted, fascinated, we wanted to understand,” said co-director Verena Paravel.

Costa Rica Shock Japan 

Costa Rica’s goalkeeper #01 Keylor Navas grabs the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E football match between Japan and Costa Rica at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 27, 2022. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

Costa Rica got their World Cup campaign up and running on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Japan.

Keysher Fuller struck the only goal of the game at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium to move level on three points with both Japan and Group E leaders Spain, who face bottom side Germany in the day’s final game.

‘Still Alive’

In the wake of the game, Luis Fernando Suarez said his Costa Rica team were “still very much alive” at the World Cup after the win blew Group E wide open — and handed a potential lifeline to Germany.

Japan, who shocked four-time champions Germany 2-1 in their opener in Qatar, would have taken a giant stride towards the last 16 with a win.

Instead, they laboured in the first half against a Costa Rica side who were hammered 7-0 by Spain, then defender Keysher Fuller scored in the 81st minute with a deflected strike on the counterattack.

It was Costa Rica’s first shot on target at this World Cup and left them, leaders Spain and Japan all on three points. Spain face Germany later Sunday in a group widely seen as the toughest at the tournament.

“These players did amazing things today. I will not talk about technique or tactics. Today I need to value and appreciate what they have done to get this win,” said Suarez, whose side meets Germany on Thursday.

“We weren’t dead yesterday and now we are still very much alive. Nobody can forget about us yet so we can still dream.

“People thought we were already out but we are in this together.”

READ ALSOSaudi Arabia Fall To Poland As Lewandowski Breaks World Cup Duck

Shock end 

Japan made five changes to the team which stunned Germany as coach Hajime Moriyasu made full use of his 26-man squad.

In temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Japan immediately went on the attack and won a corner within 30 seconds.

Suarez made just two changes to the team thumped by Spain, Gerson Torres and 34-year-old centre-back Kendall Waston taking their places in an ageing XI which featured four players from the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals.

But Japan’s early promise melted in the Doha sun and the first shot at goal — a tame effort which sailed high and wide — did not come until 10 minutes from half-time through Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell.

A dreary first half came to a close with “Los Ticos” having had more of the ball but neither side mustering a shot on target.

Moriyasu had seen enough and made a double change at the break, one of them the introduction of Bundesliga-based striker Takuma Asano, who scored the winner against the Germans.

The Blue Samurai were immediately more incisive and midfielder Hidemasa Morita drew the first proper save of the match within seconds of the restart.

It was all Japan as the match ticked into the last 10 minutes in front of 41,000 spectators.

Costa Rica had done nothing for most of the game as an attacking force, but nine minutes from the end of normal time they stole it when Fuller’s shot took a deflection and looped in.

Lack of quality 

Moriyasu, whose side face Spain in a daunting last group game, still fancies Japan’s chances of reaching the knockout round.

“Of course Spain will be tough but there is a good chance for us to win. We will be well prepared and will go into the match with confidence,” he said.

Moriyasu denied that his men were tired after their exertions against Germany and defended making so many changes to his line-up.

“In the first half Costa Rica didn’t do great either, both of us struggled to control the game,” he said.

“It was a complicated game and maybe both sides lacked some quality in the first half.”

AFP

Germany Slump To Japan In Another World Cup Shocker

Germany’s defender #02 Antonio Ruediger falls next to Japan’s midfielder #11 Takefusa Kubo during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E football match between Germany and Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on November 23, 2022. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP)

 

Japan stunned Germany 2-1 in their World Cup opener on Wednesday, punishing the four-time champions for not taking their chances after they dominated the first half.

The German team covered their mouths for the team photo before the match in a powerful protest against FIFA’s decision to ban rainbow-themed armbands.

Hansi Flick’s team came to Qatar under huge pressure to avoid the disaster of 2018, when they failed to make it out of the group stage in Russia as holders.

They took the lead through a first-half penalty from Ilkay Gundogan and should have been out of sight after creating a host of chances.

But Japan hung on and equalised through substitute Ritsu Doan in the 75th minute.

Takuma Asano then completed a remarkable turnaround eight minutes later, smashing the ball home to send the boisterous Japanese fans wild.

Germany’s World Cup future is now on the line, with games to come in Group E against Spain and Costa Rica.

Japan are eyeing a place in the knockout round after a dramatic comeback that scarcely looked possible at the end of the first half.

The Blue Samurai made a positive start, with Daizen Maeda putting the ball in the net as early as the eighth minute only for the linesman to flag for offside.

READ ALSO: [PHOTOS] Top Moments From Day 4 | Qatar 2022

German Chances

The ball drifts wide of the goal of Japan’s goalkeeper #12 Shuichi Gonda (R) during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E football match between Germany and Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on November 23, 2022. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

But it was to prove a false dawn for Japan as Antonio Rudiger headed past the post from a corner, before Joshua Kimmich tested goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, with Gundogan blasting the rebound over the bar.

Gundogan peppered the Japan goal with shots, with Gonda keeping him out before Maya Yoshida threw his body in the way of another effort.

Gundogan put the Germans ahead after they were awarded a penalty when Gonda tripped David Raum, coolly slotting his kick down the middle.

Jamal Musiala give a glimpse of his immense talent when he turned and flashed a shot over the bar on the stroke of half-time.

There was just enough time for Kai Havertz to put the ball in the net before the interval, only for VAR to rule the goal out for offside.

Musiala returned to torment Japan after the break, skipping through the defence before blazing over.

The 19-year-old then turned provider, laying the ball off for Gundogan to lash against the post.

Japan brought on livewire forwards Asano and Kaoru Mitoma to try to inject some energy into the four-times Asian champions.

But Germany kept up their pressure and only a string of last-ditch saves from Gonda prevented Japan from falling further behind.

Hiroki Sakai had a golden chance to equalise but blazed wildly over the bar after Manuel Neuer had parried the ball into his path.

Doan showed him how it was done just minutes later, converting after Neuer had palmed away Takumi Minamino’s effort.

Asano then put the Japanese fans in dreamland, racing away into the box before lashing home a shot that Neuer was powerless to stop.

Germany threw everyone forward in a desperate search for an equaliser but it was too little to late.

AFP

North Korea Fires ICBM, Lands Near Japan

 A man watches a television showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on November 18, 2022.  (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)
A man watches a television showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on November 18, 2022. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)

 

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile Friday in one of its most powerful tests ever, with Japan saying the weapon may have had the range to hit the US mainland.

The missile was believed to have come down in the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said as he blasted the launch as “absolutely unacceptable”.

The launch is Pyongyang’s second in two days and part of a record-breaking blitz in recent weeks, which North Korea — and some allies including Moscow — blame on the United States boosting regional security cooperation, including joint military exercises.

UN chief Antonio Guterres condemned the launch, and called on Pyongyang “to immediately desist from taking any further provocative actions,” according to his spokesperson.

The missile flew 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) at an altitude of 6,100 km, South Korea’s military said, only slightly less than the ICBM Pyongyang fired on March 24, which appeared to be the North’s most powerful such test yet.

Later on Friday, Tokyo and Washington held joint military drills in the airspace over the Sea of Japan.

“Japan Self-Defense Forces and US armed forces conducted a bilateral exercise… amid an increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan,” a joint staff statement distributed by the Japanese defence ministry said.

“This bilateral exercise reaffirms the strong will between Japan and the United States to respond to any situation.”

US Vice President Kamala Harris convened a meeting on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Bangkok to discuss the launch with regional leaders.

“We strongly condemn these actions and we again call for North Korea to stop further unlawful, destabilising acts,” Harris said.

Later Friday, a senior official accompanying Harris said Washington will ask China, North Korea’s primary ally, to help rein in Pyongyang.

“It will definitely be part of our diplomacy to try to get China to join the countries that are on record condemning this today,” the official said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

‘Lofted trajectory’

North Korea, led by Kim Jong Un, has fired scores of ballistic missiles this year — far more than any other year on record — and recent launches have been increasingly provocative, including firing a missile over Japan last month, triggering a rare air-raid warning.

On November 2, Pyongyang fired 23 missiles, including one which crossed the de facto maritime border and landed near the South’s territorial waters for the first time since the end of hostilities in the Korean War in 1953. Seoul called it “effectively a territorial invasion”.

The next day, North Korea fired an ICBM — although Seoul said it appeared to fail mid-flight.

Friday’s ICBM was launched at a “lofted trajectory”, Tokyo’s Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said, meaning the missile is fired up and not out, typically to avoid overflying neighbouring countries.

He said their calculations indicated the missile “could have had a range capability of 15,000 km, depending on the weight of its warhead, and if that’s the case, it means the US mainland was within its range”.

In Washington, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Friday’s launch, although highly concerning, was not deemed “a threat to homeland.”

‘A clear message’

The launch comes a day after North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile in what Pyongyang said was a response to Sunday’s talks between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington.

The North’s foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, had warned that Pyongyang would take “fiercer” military action if the United States followed through on plans to strengthen its “extended deterrence” commitment to regional allies.

In addition to speaking to Seoul and Tokyo’s leaders, US President Joe Biden discussed North Korea’s recent missile tests with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this week, as fears grow that the reclusive regime will soon carry out its seventh nuclear test.

The launches are “a clear message to the US and Japan”, said Han Kwon-hee, manager of the Missile Strategy Forum, adding the launches were “part of the North’s response to recent talks”.

Pyongyang is trying to show the South and America that its “missiles can easily break through their defence systems, no matter how much the two try to improve them”, Han added.

China, Pyongyang’s main diplomatic and economic ally, joined Russia in May in vetoing a US-led bid at the UN Security Council to tighten sanctions on North Korea.

Experts say North Korea is seizing the opportunity to conduct banned missile tests, confident of escaping further UN sanctions due to Ukraine-linked gridlock at the United Nations.

 

AFP

Japan To Spend $260bn To Tackle Inflation, Weak Yen

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to the media about the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on February 22, 2022.
STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

Japan will spend $260 billion on a stimulus package to cushion the economy from the impact of inflation and the weak yen, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Friday.

But the central bank is refusing to budge from the ultra-loose policy that has hammered the Japanese currency this year, wiping out more than 20 percent of its value against the dollar.

The government hopes the 39 trillion yen in fiscal spending will rise to 72 trillion when private sector investments are taken into account, Kishida said after ministers approved an extra budget to partly fund the relief measures.

READ ALSO: North Korea Fires Two Ballistic Missiles, Says South’s Military

“We want to protect people’s livelihoods, employment and businesses, while strengthening our economy for the future,” he told reporters, adding that the move should help push up GDP by 4.6 percent.

Prices are rising in Japan at their fastest rate in eight years, although the three-percent inflation rate remains well below the sky-high levels seen in the United States and elsewhere.

Japan — which has one of the world’s highest debt-to-GDP ratios — has already injected hundreds of billions of dollars into its economy over the past two years to support recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Friday’s package, funded by a special budget of $200 billion, will include measures to encourage wage growth and support households with energy bills, which have spiked since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We’ll aim to push down prices by more than 1.2 percent next year by lowering electricity bills by 20 percent and curbing gasoline prices,” Kishida said.

It is also designed to help people and businesses affected by the plummeting yen, currently at 147 against the dollar.

Japan spent nearly $20 billion in September in an effort to curb the yen’s slide, and further expensive government interventions have reportedly taken place in recent days.

– No change from Bank of Japan –
The yen’s steep falls have been driven by the widening gap between the monetary policies of the US and Japanese central banks — with the Bank of Japan keeping rates ultra-low to encourage sustainable growth, while the Federal Reserve ramps them up.

Following a two-day policy meeting, the BoJ said it would keep its easy-money policy, defying growing pressure to tweak its strategy as the yen drops.

Bank Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said officials would stick to their guns until prices rise “in a sustainable manner”, adding there would be no change “any time soon”.

Kuroda declined to comment on suspected currency interventions in the past week, which the finance ministry has not confirmed.

But “it is extremely important that (forex rates) reflect economic fundamentals, and move in a stable manner”, he told reporters.

“The recent depreciation of the yen is rapid and unilateral,” which is “negative for the Japanese economy”, Kuroda said.

Ahead of the BoJ meeting, UBS economists Masamichi Adachi and Go Kurihara said that a mix of continued easing by the central bank and the government’s stimulus measures would be “optimal”.

That is because Japan’s inflation is not demand-driven, but largely down to soaring energy costs, they explained in a commentary.

This view was echoed by Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

“Japan’s economy faces weak demand due to price rises, in contrast to the United States, where demand is strong, with the Fed trying to cool down inflation,” he told AFP.

“It’s impossible that Japan would hike rates to curb inflation, for this reason.”

AFP

Nigeria Ready To Become Global Hub For Vaccine Production, Distribution, Says Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea, expressed Nigeria’s readiness to become a global hub for sustainable manufacturing and distribution of vaccine and biological pharmaceuticals to support initiatives to keep all of mankind safe.

The President also called for the speedy take-off of local production of mRNA vaccines, after the World Health Organisation (WHO) selected Nigeria as one of six African countries to receive technology needed to produce the vaccines.

Addressing the World Bio Summit 2022, the Nigerian leader pledged commitment to global response to known or emerging pathogens, including the global vaccine assurance ecosystem and equitable access for all.

He told the meeting jointly convened by the Government of South Korea and WHO to discuss the future of vaccines and Bio-Health across the globe, that Nigeria would continue to explore bilateral, multilateral and other opportunities for cutting-edge technology as a centre of excellence for vaccine manufacturing and distribution.

‘‘As the mRNA technology allows science to shift attention to yet unknown disease threats, we see opportunities to address diseases that have plagued sub-Saharan Africa and third world countries for centuries.

‘‘We believe biomedical scientists can dream of ending the scourge of Malaria, Ebola, Lassa fever and various endemic neglected tropical diseases through development and manufacture of efficacious and affordable vaccines and therapeutics.

‘‘Nigeria invites partners ready to support efforts towards the entire value chain of vaccine technology development in our continent, to consider working with us in Nigeria,’’ he said.


READ ALSO: Kanu Seeks N100bn Damages Against FG Over Continued Violation Of Court Order


Noting that ongoing conversations on the future of vaccines tend to support the decentralization of capacity to produce essential materials to respond globally to pandemics, President Buhari expressed Nigeria’s preference for a global warehousing and supply chain strategy to attend to the needs of most countries.

‘‘We believe that this concept makes sense and we fully endorse the wisdom of strategic and balanced spread of critical manufacturing capacity and essential stockpiles across the globe,’’ he said.

The President, therefore, declared that Nigeria is ready and able to offer itself for this initiative, due to its strategic geographical location, strength of economy and market size derived from a population of over 214 million people.

He added that Nigeria’s comparative advantage is also supported from her experience in human and animal vaccine production record since 1924, when colonial authorities produced WHO-certified smallpox, yellow fever and anti-rabies vaccines locally – a technology that has been improved upon and being used in Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria.

The high quality of current academic and research work and potential in Nigeria is also note-worthy, he said.

The Nigerian leader used the occasion to reaffirm Nigeria’s position on equitable distribution of vaccines, citing lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and the unpleasant experiences of developing countries.

Describing the global response to the pandemic as discriminatory, the President demanded that the world must not allow the serious public health failure to happen again.

‘‘This Summit certainly opens up global conversations at high levels of government, on measures that are expected to forestall recurrence of the unpleasant experiences that Low-Income and Lower Middle-Income countries in Africa and Asia, especially, had to endure with regard to access to vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘‘It must be said that inequity in distribution of virtually all requirements for diagnostics and therapy was a key factor in the lack of capacity to produce basic or essential commodities, and the total dependence on imported goods.

‘‘Although COVID-19 actually threatened and continues to threaten all of mankind with no regard for race, region or economic standing, global response was not only segmented but discriminatory.

‘‘If the pandemic had taken the course that was predicted by some experts, there could have been an existential threat to sections of humanity. Such a serious public health failure should not be allowed to happen again and lessons must be learned from it,’’ he said.

President Buhari also recounted the efforts by his administration to mitigate the impact and curtail the spread of the virus in the country, highlighting that the positive exploits by the country were recognized and commended by the global health body.

‘‘The response by the Federal Government of Nigeria to the COVID-19 pandemic was the immediate constitution of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in March 2020, in order to coordinate and oversee Nigeria’s multi-sectoral and inter-governmental efforts to contain the spread and mitigate the impact.

‘‘Nigeria further instituted several measures through the PTF-COVID-19, anchored by our Ministry of Health to curtail the spread of the virus and protect the health of Nigerians.

‘‘These measures included an initial lockdown of non-essential activities; closure of schools; ban on international flights, nationwide curfews, set up of testing and treatment centres and so on.

‘‘These concerted efforts by the Federal Government of Nigeria, with the support of stakeholders in the private and public agencies, were able to mitigate the impact and curtail the spread of the virus on our health systems in the country.

‘‘Similarly, the efforts were designed to provide safety nets for rural and vulnerable populations in the conflict-affected regions in Nigeria.

‘‘Through international cooperation and global solidarity, including the remarkable role of the United Nations Country team in Nigeria, we were able to surmount the initial challenge of access and availability of the COVID-19 vaccines to the global community.’’

Commending the role of WHO in this regard, the President noted that the global health body continuously advocated for the equitable sharing of vaccines through the COVAX Facility, and for sharing of technology through bilateral and multilateral agreements through the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool.

President Buhari told the Summit, attended by Chief Executive Officers of Global Vaccines and Biologics Companies that undoubtedly, the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has jolted the collective consciousness of world leaders and the need to chart a better future.

‘‘Now more than ever, we must step up as leaders in a world in desperate need of healing and repair, to begin to have the difficult conversations about a future, which we must be better prepared for in order to avoid further devastation to our lives, livelihoods and physical environment.

‘‘The pandemic, within its first 3 months, exposed several weaknesses in our global health and economic systems as the world shut down and panic pervaded nations scrambling to control a virus we were yet to fully understand.

‘‘In those tough times, we were reminded, once more, of the important role played by world leaders, whose citizens entrusted them with the responsibility of charting the way out of those tumultuous times, to a future of tranquility and hope and a more resilient world that is safer for future generations.’’

On Nigeria’s quest to revive local vaccine production, the President recounted that the Federal Government of Nigeria had ratified a Joint Venture Agreement with a leading Nigerian Pharma Company for a Public Private Enterprise.

He recalled that when WHO announced Nigeria as one of six African countries to receive technology to produce mRNA vaccines, in February 2022, Biovaccine Ltd facilitated the participation of Nigerian scientists in the ongoing vaccine production workforce training in Seoul, from June 2022, supported by the Korean Government.

‘‘Nigeria also hosted representatives of frontline Research & Development organizations, to collaborate in R & D and clinical trials.

‘‘Let me also underscore the important initiative supported by the WHO for the establishment of an mRNA technology transfer hub as a strategy to increase mRNA vaccine production capacity in under-served regions, and thus promote regional health security.

‘‘The aim is to support manufacturers in low-and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines, ensuring that they have all the necessary operating procedures and technical know-how to produce mRNA vaccines at scale while observing the WHO Good Manufacturing Practices.’’

As one of the six African countries selected to be the first on the continent to receive the technology needed to produce local mRNA vaccines from the WHO scheme, the President declared that Nigeria is taking steps to provide the needed infrastructure and requisite funding necessary for the implementation of this noble initiative.

‘‘In this regard, a private pharmaceutical company to facilitate pharmaceutical production of the mRNA vaccines has been identified to pilot this project.
‘‘While we express our appreciation, once more, to the WHO and other partners for selecting Nigeria, we would like to urge for the speedy take-off of this project in the interest of global health security.’’

Super Falcons Suffer Fifth Straight Defeat After Loss To Japan

 

The Super Falcons fell to their Japanese counterparts at the Noevir Stadium courtesy of two second-half goals from Mina Tanaka.

This will be a fifth straight defeat for Randy Waldrum’s side.

Thursday’s friendly match was part of Nigeria’s preparations for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand

Asides from a fourth-place finish at the African women’s tourney, the Super Falcons stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against the United States of America in September.

The match against the former world champions saw Nigeria out-possessed and dwarfed in shots on target, barely registering a single shot on goal.

A notable absentee from the Falcons’ line-up was the reigning African Women Player of the Year, Asisat Oshoala, who did not join the squad headed for Kobe

No reason was given for her no-show. However, she was spotted training with the Blaugrana on Wednesday.

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Over Japan

In this file photo, people watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on September 25, 2022.  (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

 

North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years Tuesday, prompting Tokyo to activate its missile alert system and issue a rare warning for people to take shelter.

The latest launch comes in a record year of sanctions-busting weapons tests by North Korea, which recently revised its laws to declare itself an “irreversible” nuclear power.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres condemned the test as “clearly an escalation”, while US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida decried it “in the strongest terms”.

The launch was “destabilizing to the region, and a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Biden and Kishida said in a joint statement.

Biden also reiterated the United States’ “ironclad commitment to Japan’s defense”.

The last time Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan was in 2017, at the height of a period of “fire and fury” when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traded insults with then US president Donald Trump.

South Korea said the intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) flew some 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) — possibly a new distance record for North Korean tests, which are usually conducted on a lofted trajectory to avoid flying over neighbouring countries.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called the launch a “provocation”, and vowed a “stern response”.

READ ALSO: North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile After US VP Harris Tours DMZ

Later Tuesday, South Korean and US fighter jets carried out a “precision bombing drill” in response, Seoul’s military said, with South Korean F-15Ks dropping joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) at a target in the Yellow Sea.

The drills aimed to demonstrate the allies’ “capabilities to conduct a precision strike at the origin of provocations”, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

On the same day, eight Japanese and four US fighter jets carried out a joint drill in airspace west of the country’s Kyushu region, according to Japan’s Joint Staff.

The forces “confirmed their readiness and demonstrated domestically and abroad the strong determination of Japan and the United States to deal with any situation”, it said in a statement.

Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile could have been a Hwasong-12.

Pyongyang used Hwasong-12s the last two times it fired missiles over Japan — in August and September 2017 — tweeted Chad O’Carroll of specialist site NK News.

Japan activated its missile warning system and urged people in two northern regions of the country to take shelter early Tuesday.

Nuclear message

The Tuesday test is Pyongyang’s fifth missile launch in 10 days and sends a clear message to the United States, Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha University in Seoul, told AFP.

The missiles “put South Korea, Japan, and Guam within range” and show that Pyongyang could hit US bases with nukes if war broke out on the Korean peninsula, he said.

“As these are missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, the launch also has a political goal of once again declaring North Korea a de facto nuclear power and showing its complete denuclearisation is impossible,” Park added.

Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have been ramping up joint military drills to counter Pyongyang’s growing threats, staging the first trilateral anti-submarine drills in five years Friday.

That came just days after the US and South Korean navies conducted large-scale exercises.

Such drills infuriate North Korea, which sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.

US Vice President Kamala Harris visited Seoul last week and toured the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean peninsula, on a trip to underscore her country’s commitment to South Korea’s defence.

About 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea to help protect it from the North.

‘Very aggressive’

Firing a missile over Japan represented a “significant escalation” by North Korea, said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University.

“Pyongyang is still in the middle of a provocation and testing cycle,” he added.

South Korean and US officials have been warning for months that Kim is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, saying last week that this could happen soon after Pyongyang’s key ally China holds a Communist Party congress from October 16.

Pyongyang has tested nuclear weapons six times since 2006, most recently in 2017.

“North Korea always starts with a low-level provocation and gradually raises the level to attract media attention from all over the world,” said Go Myong-hyun, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

“Their final provocation will probably be a nuclear test,” he said, adding that North Korea had taken the unusual and “very aggressive” step of overflying Japan to attract more attention.

“By launching the missile over Japan, they are showing that their nuclear threat is not just targeting South Korea.”

AFP

Man Rejects State Funeral For Shinzo Abe, Sets Self Ablaze

Anti-war, anti-nuclear and people against the government’s funding for the funeral of late Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe take part in a protest rally and march in Tokyo on September 19, 2022. Richard A. Brooks / AFP

 

A man set himself on fire near the Japanese prime minister’s office on Wednesday after expressing opposition to a state funeral for assassinated ex-premier Shinzo Abe, local media reported.

Police declined to confirm the incident, but the government said an individual with burns had been found near government property.

“We are aware that a man with burns was found by a police officer at 7:00 am (2200 GMT) this morning at an intersection below the cabinet office,” top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said.

“But details are currently being examined by police,” he added, declining to answer further questions on the incident.

Local media said the man was taken to hospital and was conscious.

TV Asahi said he told police he was opposed to the planned ceremony for Abe.

According to the television station, a police officer who tried to extinguish the fire was injured in the process.

Jiji news agency said handwritten notes found near the man said he was “staunchly opposed” to the state funeral.

The man was believed to be in his 70s and told police he had doused himself in oil, the agency added.

By mid-morning, the only sign of the incident was a scorched patch of grass and bush, with police and media nearby.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was shot dead on July 8 while campaigning and a publicly funded state funeral honouring him will be held on September 27.

State funerals are rare in Japan, and the decision has been controversial. Recent polls show more than half of the public is opposed to the idea.

Abe was Japan’s best-known politician and remained a prominent public figure after resigning for health reasons in 2020.

He was campaigning for ruling-party candidates in upper-house elections in the Nara region when he was shot by a man who allegedly believed the former leader had ties to the Unification Church.

World leaders expected

The assassination prompted shock and international condemnation, but sitting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s authorisation of a state funeral has proved contentious.

Abe was far from universally popular, and many opposed his hawkish nationalist views or were angered by persistent allegations of cronyism.

The ceremony for Abe is expected to cost at least 1.7 billion yen ($12 million.)

Kishida, who is currently in New York to address the UN General Assembly, has defended the plan, insisting Abe’s record-breaking tenure and international standing mean he merits the ceremony.

The prime minister’s approval ratings have taken a hit over the decision, as well as a controversy over ties between politicians and the Unification Church.

The church, whose members are sometimes colloquially called the “Moonies” after Korean founder Sun Myung Moon, has been accused of pressuring believers to make sometimes ruinous donations — accusations it denies.

Tetsuya Yamagami, the man accused of shooting Abe, reportedly resented the church over his mother’s membership and hefty donations that left his family bankrupt.

While Abe was not a member of the church, he addressed affiliated groups, and his death caused renewed scrutiny of the sect and its political connections.

An investigation by Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party found that around half its lawmakers had ties to the sect.

He has pledged that the party will cut all links to the church, which has denied any wrongdoing.

Abe’s state funeral will be held at Tokyo’s Budokan, a large venue for concerts and sporting events.

World leaders, including US Vice President Kamala Harris and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, are among those expected to attend.

AFP

CBN Africa, Japan Construct Rural Clinics in Nasarawa State

 

CBN Africa in partnership with the Embassy of Japan in Nigeria commissioned two rural clinics in Gidan Gimba and Arishi communities of Karu and Nasarawa Local Govt Areas of Nasarawa state. Construction of these clinics was made possible with funds from the Japanese Government, through the Grant Assistance for Grass-roots Projects (GGP) of the Japanese Embassy in Nigeria.

The humanitarian project carried out is for the benefit of the people of Gidan Gimba and Arishi communities to improve access to primary health care. Also, the construction of these facilities was targeted as part of CBN Africa’s commitment to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal-3 (Good Health and Wellbeing).

In his speech, the Regional Director, CBN Africa, Dr. Felix Oisamoje stated that the construction of these rural clinics in Gidan Gimba and Arishi, both in Karu and Nasarawa Local Govt Areas of Nasarawa State will lead to the improvement in the quality of life of many village dwellers, who otherwise have little or no access to primary health care. As a result of the sustainability of the projects, we are confident that over the years more people will benefit from the clinics which will provide them with an improved quality of life, and ultimately see them contribute their quota to national development.

Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria ably represented by the Deputy Head of Mission: Mr. Shinozawa Takayuki in his address said the project being commissioned was another demonstration of the Government of Japan’s sustained commitment in supporting Nigeria to overcome the challenges in its Universal Health Coverage. He further stated that the project was aimed at improving lives by providing medical equipment such as Oxygen cylinders, digital BP monitors, wheel chairs, first aid boxes to mention a few. Members of the community can easily access the medical centre at an affordable cost for a healthy and productive life for their families. He enjoined everyone present to work together to maintain the equipment so that it lasts for a long time, and can be of great benefit to the patients of this clinic. He stated his firm belief that the project will contribute to the creation of a better future for Nasarawa state, and Nigeria as a whole, and to further strengthen the relationship between Nigeria and Japan.

Also present at the event were; Chairman, Karu Local Government Area: Honourable James Thomas, Karu Local Government Councilor: Hon Adamu Bawa, Local Overseer; Karshi Development Area: Arafat Muhammad, Attaché, Embassy of Japan – Ose Tae, GGP Coordinator, Embassy of Japan- Miss Sophia Agada, Head of Humanitarian, CBN Africa: Rev John Kalma.

CBN Africa popularly known as the 700 Club continues to execute humanitarian and developmental programs to better the living conditions of the local population. Through its humanitarian arm (Operation Blessing), CBN offers relief supplies (medications, clothing, blankets, toiletries, and Furniture) to hospitals, correctional centers, orphanages, and victims of natural disasters and armed conflict in Nigeria, as well as scholarships for HIV/AIDS orphans.

Additionally, Operation Blessing (OB) runs Women and Youth Empowerment Programs. Other services include the provision of free medical care to the rural poor and disadvantaged who cannot afford basic health care in various impoverished locations across the nation. This is accomplished by establishing rural community clinics and funding corrective surgery for children born with Cleft-Lip/Palate abnormalities. OB has sponsored over three hundred (300) surgeries to date.

Super Falcons Depart USA, Shift Attention To Japan Friendly

Super Falcons meet with a number of Nigerians based in Kansas City, Missouri

 

Nine-time African champions and FIFA World Cup ever-present, Super Falcons of Nigeria have flown out of the United States of America after a two-match tour in which they lost the second narrowly to three-time world champions USWNT.

Mexico –based forward Uchenna Kanu became the first Nigerian to score against the USWNT in 20 years when she slotted into the net in the 50th minute for the equalizer in the two teams’ second encounter at the Audi Field in Washington on Tuesday. The Americans won the first session in Kansas City, Missouri on Saturday by four goals.

An own goal by defender Oluwatosin Demehin in the 25th minute had put Nigeria behind in the game, just minutes after goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie made a double save from marauding USWNT attackers.

Rose Lavelle restored USA’s lead in the 66th minute when she nodded in at the far left of Nnadozie’s goal off a pull-out by Megan Rapino.

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The delegation of Super Falcons departed from the United States on Wednesday, with the focus now shifted to the friendly with Japan scheduled for next month.

The Falcons will take on the Senior Women National Team of Japan in a prestige international friendly match at the Noevir Stadium, Kobe on Thursday, 6th October. The date falls within one of the FIFA Women International Windows for this year.

Nadeshiko Japan, which is the alias of the Women National Team of Japan, are rated 13th in the world. Both teams have clashed only once at a competitive level – at the 2004 Olympic Women’s Football Tournament. Nadeshiko pipped the Falcons 1-0 at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus on 14th August 2004.

Two back-to-back friendlies in 2013 were won 2-0 each by Nadeshiko.

Japan’s entertaining girls won the FIFA World Cup in Germany in 2011, beating Team USA in a pulsating penalty shoot-out after regulation time ended 2-2. Nadeshiko thus became the first team from Asia to win a senior FIFA World Cup trophy.

The Super Falcons have participated in every FIFA Women’s World Cup finals since the competition began in 1991, reaching the quarter-finals in 1999. They are one of the 32 teams that will take part in the biggest-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup finals set for nine cities in Australia and New Zealand from 20th July – 20th August 2023.